De Dion Bouton Type AX 15HP Double Berline 1908 by Roussille&Fils Bergerac

Car producer : 

De Dion Bouton

Model:

Type AX 15HP Double Berline 1908 by Roussille&Fils Bergerac

Year:

1908

Type:

Berline



De Dion-Bouton was a French automobile manufacturer and railcar manufacturer operating from 1883 to 1953. The company was founded by the Marquis Jules-Albert de Dion, Georges Bouton, and Bouton's brother-in-law Charles Trépardoux.

The company was formed after de Dion in 1881 saw a toy locomotive in a store window and asked the toymakers to build another. Engineers Bouton and Trépardoux had been eking out a living with scientific toys at a shop in the Passage de Léon, near "rue de la Chapelle" in Paris. Trépardoux had long dreamed of building a steam car, but neither could afford it. De Dion, already inspired by steam (in the form of rail locomotives) and with ample money, agreed, and De Dion, Bouton et Trépardoux was formed in Paris in 1883. This became the De Dion-Bouton automobile company, the world's largest automobile manufacturer for a time, becoming well known for their quality, reliability, and durability.

The same year, the tricar was joined by a four-wheeler and in 1900 by a vis a vis voiturette, the Model D, with its 3¾ CV (2.8 kW) 402 cc (24.5 cu in) single-cylinder engine under the seat and drive to the rear wheels through a two-speed gearbox. This curious design had the passenger facing the driver, who sat in the rear seat. The voiturette had one inestimable advantage: the expanding clutches of the gearbox were operated by a lever on the steering column. The Model D was developed through Models E, G, I, and J, with 6 CV (4.5 kW) by 1902, when the 8 CV (6 kW) Model K rear-entry phaeton appeared, with front-end styling resembling the contemporary Renault. Until World War I, De Dion-Boutons had an unusual decelerator pedal which reduced engine speed and ultimately applied a transmission brake. In 1902, the Model O introduced three speeds, which was standard for all De Dion-Boutons in 1904.

A small number of electric cars were also made in 1901.

In 1900, De Dion-Bouton was the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, producing 400 cars and 3,200 engines. The company soon began producing engines and licenses for other automobile companies with an estimate of 150 makes using them. Production was so great, it proved impossible to test every engine; if it failed on the bench, it was simply disassembled. Every engine was being made by hand; the assembly line had not yet been introduced. By 1904 some 40,000 engines had been supplied across Europe. That year, De Dion-Bouton's factory at Quai National (now Quai de Dion-Bouton), Puteaux, employed 1,300 and produced more than 2,000 cars, all hand-made.

The engine moved to the front in 1903 in the Populaire with 700 or 942 cc (42.7 or 57.5 cu in) engines, the latter being powerful enough to allow trucks to be added to cars, and by the end of the year reverse gear had also appeared. It was joined by the 6 CV (4 kW) 864 cc (52.5 in3) Types N and Q (the latter a low-priced K), the 8 CV (6 kW) R, and their first multi-cylinder model, the two-cylinder 1728 cc (105 in3) 12 CV (8 kW) S, followed in 1904 by the four-cylinder 2,545 cc (155.3 cu in) 15 CV (11 kW) Type AD and 24 CV (18 kW) AI. But as with modern technology things moved quickly and the company had to move with the times, by the turn of 1904/5 an inline four cylinder was offered, being simply four individual pots on a common crankcase. Next the radiator was moved above the chassis in the style made fashionable by Mercedes and with it the 'alligator' or 'coal scuttle' bonnet was retired. The gearbox too would follow fashion and move to a side control mechanism, by the time De Dion fielded their Peking-Paris team in 1907. The model AX as offered here represented the evolution of the first four that was introduced, on a slightly longer more substantial frame and with magneto ignition. As a bare chassis it cost 11,500 French Francs more than twice the price of their single cylinder car which was still offered, and with formal coachwork, 40-50% could reasonably be expected to be added. The cars were also getting more and more conventional in styling, with the radiator moving in front of the engine and the clutch changing from hand lever to pedal.

The company became the first to make a successful mass-produced V8 engine, a 35 CV (26 kW) 6,107 cc (372.7 cu in) CJ in 1910, followed by a 7.8 liter and a 14.7 liter for the U.S., as well as by a 3,534 cc (215.7 cu in) Type CN in 1912.

During World War I the company made gun parts, armoured vehicles, and aircraft engines, as well as cars and trucks. The company produced an anti-aircraft version of the French 75mm field gun, the Canon de 75 modèle 1897, mounted on a V8-powered De Dion-Bouton truck for the French Army between 1913 and 1918.

The company stagnated after World War I. The V8 continued to appear until 1923, and in spite of new models with front-wheel brakes, the factory closed for much of 1927. On reopening two models were listed, the Type LA with a 1,982 cc (120.9 cu in) four-cylinder overhead valve, aluminium-piston engine, and the Type LB with a 2,496 cc (152.3 cu in) straight-8. The latter was very expensive and sales were few, despite growth to 3 litres (180 cu in) in 1930. A rumored takeover by Peugeot or Mercedes did not materialize, leading to the end of passenger car production in 1932.

Small numbers of commercial vehicles were made until 1950; the last vehicles to carry the De Dion badge were licence-made Land Rovers in the early 1950s. The company name was bought by a motorcycle maker in 1955

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